20th Century Ghosts
I grew up reading short stories in the annual Reader’s Digest books my parents collected, so I’ve always liked the short form. Perhaps that is why I pursued it in college, wanting to know what made them work. So I took a lot of classes in college to do just that, to dissect stories to see what made them resonate with readers. And although I’ve been trying to push myself to write longer fiction, I’ll never be able to fully abandon the short fiction. I love a story you can read in a day and think about all night.
In his youth, Cain developed a sense of wonderment owed in part to TV shows like The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, One Step Beyond, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Now Cain seeks the same dark overtones in his writing. There's a little something for every reader.
These 25 short speculative stories represent the smoldering remains of a blaze, the fiery bits meant to ignite the mind with slow-burning imagery and smoky twists and turns. These are the very embers of Cain's soul. In this collection, Cain features stories of troubled men and women, both living and dead. Themes of loss and the afterlife take on many forms, as he explores the unknown.
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SGJ has such a unique voice, it’s hard to deny this collection its props. Here you have a wide range of themes and unique characterization, and I think there’s a lot to be learned from a collection such as this. Dialogue, character building, tension; this is like a guide to writing good fiction.
I mean, come on. We’ve all read The Lottery. This is a collection of works from a master of fiction. We dissected that story in nearly every literature class I took in college, and it never got old. That ability to exploit the darkness in the very mundane has always been a staple of horror, and no one does that better than Jackson. And while the subject matter for many of her stories may not have always been hot topics at the time, they're quite relevant now in the clarity of their message.
This is classic King at its best. Once again, we have a wide range of themes, but King delivers his prose with grace and ease like no other. This collection inspired so many ideas for my own work, it’s hard not to include it. What I love about a good King collection is that you never really know where he’s going to take you on a mind voyage, so it’s always an interesting trip. “Expect the unexpected” has been a big play for my own writing, often epitomized in King’s writing.
I love, love, love "The Paper Menagerie". It’s one of my favorites. In fact, I’ve not come across one story by Liu yet that failed to take me to another place. His work has appeared in numerous pro markets and featured in the Netflix series, Love, Death, & Robots. Now you can get the wealth of it in one place, and I’m thankful for it. Liu is a fantastic writer with unique and diverse ideas and world-building.
We think you will like From a Certain Point of View (Star Wars), The People, and Justified if you like this list.
From Erin's list on the best books to continue living in beloved sci-fi universes.
With only two books out (referencing Star Wars: A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back) the From a Certain Point of View books are brilliant. So brilliant. I can’t explain how much I love these books in one short paragraph. They are a collection of short stories written by dozens of authors who recall events in the films both big and small. Did you ever want to know who the guy is on Hoth who interrupts Han and Leia arguing? Well, now you do! With each story taking only about 20 minutes to read, they’re a perfect nighttime story that add such richness to the films we’ve all seen dozens, if not hundreds, of times.
From Sally's list on the best speculative fiction books that every science fiction author needs to read.
From J.'s list on the best fantasy novels with unforgettable characters.
This is high-caliber space fantasy in the realm of Star Wars or Dune. It brings together a grizzled holy warrior having doubts about his faith with a naïve and sheltered princess in a brutal world ruled by absolutely vile overlords. The perspective switches between the two of them. The warrior – Drin – grapples with whether the church’s mission to fight evil brings it to use methods too similar to the evil it fights. Meanwhile the princess – Anais – has to come to terms very quickly with the reality of life outside the palace when slavers invade her home and abduct her off-world.